According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Monday, June 12, the Richmond Fire Department was called on Saturday by a resident with an unusual request. The call came in for someone to help a man find his Prosthetic Eye that cost nearly $5,000. The eye was suctioned out of the socket while he was swimming in a pool at his apartment development.

Team of divers

The first responders were Divers from the Richmond Dive and Rescue team who usually handle daring rescues on the James River. However, they came all suited up and ready for a task they had never performed before.

It took them only several minutes to find the man's artificial eye that was not damaged. Tommy Gilliam was very thankful for the search and rescue. He noted that it was much easier to find it in a Swimming Pool than if he had lost it at the beach.

The Fire Department described the rescue on Facebook as different from an everyday call for help. A spokesman said it is not unusual to get a call for reasons other than for fires. Of the 700 calls that were responded to over the weekend, only 14 of them were for fires. The others were for a list of other reasons, but finding the expensive prosthetic eye was one that stands out from among the others.

The divers were glad to help even though they had never performed a rescue for a prosthetic eye before.

The City of Richmond decided not to charge the thankful owner for the rescue.

It was not revealed if the Fire Department offered Gilliam any instructions on what to do the next time he goes swimming. However, the man will probably take some precautionary measures to prevent losing the eye again. He could wear goggles while in the pool.

Gilliam is pictured on the Fire Department Facebook page shaking hands with the diver who found his eye. He was seen laughing about the incident when he was interviewed by Drew Wilder on NBC Channel 12 News on Monday evening.

However, he said it was no laughing matter because the eye is so costly, and he would have been in a world of trouble if he had not called the Richmond Police non-emergency number and if officials had sent the dive team to help.

Gilliam didn't think the Fire Department would send anybody.

About prosthetic eyes

A prosthetic eye is known by other names, such as ocular prosthesis, artificial eye or glass eye. It fits into the eye socket under the eyelids. The person who has a prosthetic eye is blind in that particular eye. The artificial eye is used mainly for cosmetic reasons and not for sight. Gilliam has been wearing his artificial eye since 2005, and he is glad he gets to wear it much longer.